Brown Derby Hamburgers De Luxe

For those of us of a certain age the Brown Derby Restaurant conjures up images of Hollywood’s golden age stars eating out in fancy clothing have their photos taken. I found a recipe for their Hamburgers De Luxe in one of my favorite vintage cookbooks, The Ford’s Treasury of Favorite Recipes From Famous Eating Place. I have the 1950 version.

I love this cookbook because not only does it have easy recipes, but it has beautiful illustrations by a variety of artists depicting the exteriors and interiors of the restaurants. Some of these restaurants still exist today, but many are long gone. Like the Brown Derby.

The Brown Derby opened in Hollywood in 1926 in a funky derby hat shaped building. As it grew in popularity, the new owners opened several more versions of the restaurant including the most popular site on North Vine Street which opened in 1929. This branch was located near the Hollywood movie studies making it a favorite haunt of the stars. Here’s the image used in the cookbook that shows the restaurant lit up at night.  

My “memories” of the Brown Derby revolve around I Love Lucy and the famous episode where Lucy, Ethel and Fred go to eat at the restaurant. Star struck Lucy ends up dumping a meal on William Holden. Here’s a fun You Tube clip that shows the segment. William Holden orders Cobb Salad, which was invented at the Brown Derby.

This blog shows some interior scenes of one of the restaurants from a 1932 movie. The main restaurant burned in 1987 and was not reopened ending an era of greatness. Here’s another good blog with a history and photos.

In prowling around for Brown Derby information I also learned that in 1949 they produced their own cookbook. Oh, would I love this! Maybe someday I’ll find it.

In the meantime, I made hamburgers for dinner tonight.

Hamburger De Luxe – (for us I split this recipe in half and it made 4 large hamburgers)

  • 2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. English powdered mustard
  • 1 tbs. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire
  • 2 tsp. chicken fat (I omitted this because let’s face it who has chicken fat sitting around?)

Mix the meat with the egg and add all the other ingredients except the chicken broth. After you’ve mixed this then add chicken broth. This makes a VERY wet mixture, and I advise you to use 1 – 1/12 c. chicken broth and keep an eye on it. The broth really makes the hamburger moist and tastes great, but boy was it soupy.

I broiled my hamburgers in the oven. My mom always cooked our hamburgers this way so why not? Old school.

While they are broiling, make the De Luxe Sauce.

  • 2 c. brown sauce (I made my own using 2 tbs. flour whisked into beef broth until it thickened over low heat)
  • 1 tbs. English powdered mustard
  • 2 tsp. A-1 Sauce
  • 1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 c. catsup
  • 2 pats butter (I omitted)

Boil this all gently and add a little dried parsley. Pour over the cooked hamburgers.

Yes, it's all a tad brown. Sorry about that.

We didn’t have any hamburger buns so we just served the burgers with the sauce over them. They were really good. Very moist and the sauce creates a very unique flavor. So glad we tried this!

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